More than anything, Nick Crandall’s real family had always been baseball.
He’d always felt that way about the teams he’d played on, since his first T-ball team. And he felt that way about the teams in the majors he followed, usually the ones with the best catchers, because Nick was a catcher, too.
Baseball was the only thing that made Nick feel like he really belonged. There were a lot of reasons why he loved baseball season, but that was the biggest.
Maybe everybody else on junior varsity at the Hayworth School, all the other sixth and seventh-graders on the team, looked at the calendar and thought the school year was coming to an end.
As far as he was concerned, everything was just beginning.
School baseball was for the spring, and that was his only team in the spring, because Paul and Brenda Crandall had one rule about sports: one team per season. Even that was all right with Nick. He got to play school ball every day except on the weekends, and he could look forward to playing in their town’s summer Little League from the end of June into August.
So when he looked at the calendar, all he could see was baseball, practically all the way until school started again in the fall.
It was the first week of tryouts for JV, even though hardly anybody thought of them as tryout tryouts, because everybody who came out made the team. Some guys did get cut off varsity, made up of eighth- and ninth-graders, depending on how many came out. But even those guys, no matter how old they were, got moved down to JV if they still wanted to play.
Nobody moved up, though.
You didn’t get to play varsity at Hayworth until you were in eighth. Nobody was sure if it was an official written-down rule. But if you played sports at Hayworth, and everybody had to play at least one, you knew that’s how things were done.
Nick didn’t care. No way did he care. He was in no rush to play varsity, anyway. The varsity catcher, Bobby Mazzilli, was graduating with the rest of his class in June. So in Nick’s mind, a mind filled with baseball stuff the way his desk drawers were filled with baseball cards and magazines, next year he had a good shot at being varsity catcher.
That was no sure thing, of course, even though things seemed to be set up just right for him. Because more than anything he knew about baseball, Nick knew this:
There were no sure things in your life.